Jason Lindquist (jlindquist) wrote,
Jason Lindquist

What time is it?

We'll have a better sense of that soon. My shot clocks finally showed up. Well, one of them did. There should be two, and we're inquiring what the story is. I'm sure it's a simple mistake and they'll rush us the other one. It was a big delivery, as the new clocks require a new controller capable of running them jointly with the main scoreboard and clock. In addition to the AS5010 controller we specifically ordered, they sent us two of the smaller AS1600s. I wanted one as a backup, but two... I wonder if someone didn't enter something backwards, and sent us one clock and two small controllers instead of two clocks and one controller?

The biggest issue is Daktronics changed their control communications protocol. The shot clocks required the new controller, which requires new driver boards to be installed in the existing scoreboards, and those boards (they're kind of big, about 9x17") showed up too. It was a big delivery, just one box short. I've reverse-engineered the old comm protocol, it was fairly simple... Bits shifted serially onto a twisted pair, which could be easily unshifted and clocked into latches driving the displays. The new one, I suspect is much more complicated. The install/maintenance manuals talk a lot about addressing, and I observed some new behavior during testing. In the past, you unplugged the control cable, and the board went dark. You plugged it back in, and the board lit back up immediately.

Not so anymore. The shot clock (and I suspect all other equipment) only lights up when something on it changes. The controller no longer sends a constant stream of all its data. At least some of it is only being sent when it changes. On the other hand, you used to have several control lines... basketball scoreboards were on a different pair from the shot clocks, and our big score-by-inning baseball board took three pairs. Now everything is carried on one pair. There's an upper bound to bandwidth on a single 22-gauge shielded twisted pair, so if you want to send more data on the line, you have to send it less often. A-ha...

Of course, looking at their web site to find relevant links, I see some of their new products. Scorers tables with integrated scoreboards (which would be visible from our videotaping spot,) and tables with graphics displays in them.

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